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The Six Metaphysical Concepts Underlying Ayurveda

Ayurveda, (literally, life-knowledge) the science of longevity, was regarded as one of the Upavedas, closely associated with Atharva Veda. It embraces all aspects of well being – physical, mental and spiritual. Its main object is ayusha (long life) through Arogya (freedom from disease).

In practice, Ayurveda covers the study of the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and cure of diseases. In the beginning, Ayurveda was mainly medical and empirical, but it later developed as a philosophical theory, highly elaborated, abstruse and remote from reality, based on recondite abstractions that had little apparent relevance to practical therapy, but related to the supra-physical and spiritual base of the Hindu systems of thought and living.

The chief metaphysical concepts underlying Ayurveda may be summarized as follows –

  1. Paramanu or atomic theory of substance
  2. Triguna or the theory of matter
  3. Panchabhautik or the five-element theory of physics
  4. Saptadhatu or the seven-element theory of physiology
  5. Trikosha or the three-sheath theory of anatomy
  6. Tridosha or the three-humor theory of temperament.